Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Persian Cucumbers

One of James' favorites -- crunchy, thin-skinned, gently sweet Persian cucumbers put American slicing varieties to shame. I make sure our trellis has at least a few plants every summer.
Equally good fresh or pickled when our vines are most prolific I preserve our harvest by making several jars of Joan Nathan's Hungarian cucumber salad. It keeps for a couple weeks even and makes a great side for sandwiches or grilled meats.
Slice cucumbers very thinly, about 1/4 - 1/8 inch on a mandolin  -- and layer the slices, sprinkled with plenty of salt -- into a colander. Nathan calls for two cucumbers ( regular sized cucumbers, Persians are smaller) and 1 tsp salt. I always at least double or triple the recipe and generally use closer to 1TB of salt (or even a touch more) for each 3-4 Persian cucs. After the cucumbers have sat (weighted with a heavy dish or pot) for about an hour, I squeeze out the excess water (if there is any that didn't drip through the colander) and combine them with one large onion sliced as thinly as the cucumbers. Next I mix together 1/4 cup white vinegar, 1/2 cup water, a pinch of sugar, and a healthy grating of black pepper and pour the liquid over the cucumbers and onions and let the salad marinate for a few hours. The result is pickle-y and bright and summery. A great make ahead salad for picnics and parties and guests.

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